I was pleased, at my November 20 lecture at Goldsmiths College in southeast London, to meet fellow blogger Tim Rutherford-Johnson, in attendance. He says I met him at a Goldsmiths appearance several years ago, but I hadn’t remembered him from that time because he hadn’t yet become a famous new-music blogger – in fact, no one had yet heard the word “blog.” Tim flatteringly describes my talk in his current blog entry, and makes cryptic reference to a little scheme that we whipped up over drinks afterward. We thought it might be fun to each separately report that a certain fellow blogger had shown up at my lecture roaring drunk. As so often, when the time came I didn’t quite have the energy to go through with the practical joke, but Tim and I had fun developing the scenario.
In Amsterdam I also quite unexpectedly ran into an old friend: Frank Abbinanti, a pianist-composer from my Chicago days, who happened to give a performance at the Goethe Institute on October 21. Frank is a political composer from the Cardew circle whose tastes, which I know well, run from political music to the Darmstadt school to certain thorny edges of postminimalism. This was not our first chance encounter. One day in the late ’80s I was browsing at Academy Books on 18th Street in Manhattan, a great place for used records. The store phone rang, and an employee picked it up. I heard his side of the conversation: “Yeah? Boulez Piano Sonatas? Who’s the pianist again? Idil Biret? Hold on, I’ll look it up.” He set the phone down and walked off. With an undefinable feeling that only one person in the world could be calling New York to search for that particular disc (which I own, by the way), I sidled over to the phone, picked it up, and asked, “Frank?” It was him. Calling from Chicago.